Growth is coming to Citrus County — the choice for residents and officials here is whether and how to plan for it.
That was the message Carolyn Gosselin, senior vice president of investor relations at the Florida Chamber, sent attendees at Friday’s Citrus County Chamber of Commerce luncheon at Citrus Hills Golf & Country Club.
“Florida is changing very rapidly and you (Citrus County) are very close to the epicenter of that change,” Gosselin told the 150-member chamber crowd.
Currently, Citrus County has 148,000 people. By 2030, that population is expected to grow by another 28,000, Gosselin said.
Why the big influx? First look south, and then southeast.
Right now, 21.5 million people live in Florida. By 2030, that number will be 26 million. And 33% will settle in three counties: Miami-Dade, Orange and Hillsborough.
Given that Citrus is only 90 minutes from Tampa, the number of folks who want to move here and commute to the big city should swell. And once Suncoast Parkway 2 is complete, that commute will be even easier.
That means Citrus County needs to fine-tune its vision of where it wants to be in the future and work on roads and other infrastructure, because it’s going to get busier around here, according to Gosselin, who took the data from the state chamber’s Florida Scorecard.
The scorecard provides key indicators that local and state leaders can use to measure growth within their communities. It provides a birds-eye view of where each of the 67 counties in Florida need to focus its resources — from jobs and economic diversity to global competitiveness and the vibrancy of communities.
Gosselin lauded Citrus County for already moving forward with its own 2030 plan developed by Leadership Citrus. The goal of that plan is to give county stakeholders — especially younger generations — a chance to shape the county over the next decade.
Gosselin said the way to prepare for that growth is through higher-paying jobs, a better-educated populace, a more skilled workforce and smart growth.